A Bird Tail: History Of Our New River Hawks
Since 2007, a pair of peregrine falcons has called UMass Lowell’s East Campus home. Their hideaway at Fox was discovered by accident in 2007 when workers tried to attach a large banner to the side of the building.
They have been adopted as our newest River Hawks.
The birds, which are highly territorial, took turns attacking the intruders. At the time, the female had laid eggs on a bare bed of gravel on the roof, but the eggs didn’t hatch; it was too cold and too damp.
In February 2008 the University provided a nest box so the eggs would be protected from the elements and installed a web cam, which allowed officials and the public to keep track of the hatchings.
The birds’ penthouse digs—18 stories above the ground—come with a view of the urban sprawl of Lowell, the growing campus beneath and the mighty Merrimack River, which would lure a veritable banquet of meals.
Since 2008, 15 chicks have been successfully raised. The pair also “adopted” a chick from Lawrence in 2008, the runt of a four-chick litter plucked from a nest up the Merrimack and brought to Lowell by wildlife officials. The group bonded. As the young bird finished its second solo flight, the father waited with a freshly killed pigeon as reward. The subsequent chicks arrived without outside help. Almost all of them have remained in Eastern Massachusetts.
An upgraded wooden box and high-definition web cameras were installed on the Fox Hall roof in March 2014—in an odd synergy with the buildings below.
Beneath the birds’ renovated digs, a similar transformation has taken place on campus.
More students and higher standards arrived. More buildings rose. Even the food got better in reimagined dining facilities. Division I came calling.
All the while, the birds chose to make our world a home, each spring, after wintering not far from here, say officials.
Some beings spend a lifetime looking for home. Our River Hawks spend a lifetime returning.
In The News
- UMass Lowell 'adopts' real-life River Hawks (The Eagle Tribune, April 23, 2014)
- UMass Lowell adopt, name rare falcons nesting on campus (NoBo Magazine, April 23, 2014)
- UMass Lowell to 'adopt' peregrine falcons (The Boston Globe, April 17, 2014)
- UMass Lowell to 'Adopt" Real-Life River Hawks (Channel 10, April 22, 2014)
- UMass Lowell 'Adopts' Real-Life River Hawks (UMass Lowell, April 22, 2014)
- MSPCA-Angell Salutes UMass Lowell's Wildlife Protection Efforts (MSPCA Angell, April 3, 2014)
- Fox Hall Falcons to be Named Honorary River Hawks (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2014)
- Fox Hall Falcons Successfully Hatch Two Chicks (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2013)
- Fox Hall Falcons Successfully Hatch Two Chicks (pdf) (UMass Lowell NewsLine - 2013)
- Falcons Hatch Chicks Atop Fox Hall (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2012)
- Four Falcon Chicks Hatch Atop Fox Hall (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2011)
- Falcons Hatch Chicks Atop Fox Hall (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2010)
- Meet Fox Hall’s New Residents (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2009)
- Falcons at UMass Lowell Take Chick under Their Wing (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2008)
- A Bird’s Eye View at UMass Lowell (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2008)
- Baby Falcon Soars Alone From Rooftop of UMass Lowell Dorm (Lowell Sun - 2008)
- Falcons 1, Commencement Banner 0 (UMass Lowell, ENews - 2007)